The American Spectator has taken lately to advertising itself as “America’s cleverest magazine,” causing sleepless nights and extensive therapy for those of its humble contributors like Yours Truly who are fearful that they cannot live up to that billing. The secret of being a good columnist is to nail the opening sentence, writing something that is at once witty, compelling and indicative of where the article is heading. With the bar now set so high, I have been forced to discard some openings that fell just short. Here are twenty-five that are headed for the wastepaper receptacle; maybe you can use ‘em.
1) Consumer confidence is down, they say, and at least in my case they’re right: I don’t buy it.
2) That old peanut farmer, Jimmy Carter, taught the Democratic Party a great deal: since his departure they have produced a consistent harvest of nuts.
3) The late Betty Friedan pursued an ingenious strategy of uglification; after the Wicked-Witch-of-the-West look-alike had a few children, she wrote a series of books to convince nice-looking women like Gloria Steinem not to reproduce.
4) Oprah Winfrey has become so incensed at James Frey for fooling her with his book, A Million Little Pieces, that she has berated him on national television — and fired him from ghost-writing her memoir.
5) The left wing of the Supreme Court claims to speak for modernity but has an average age of 72; soon they’ll be the greatest concentration of liberal octogenarians outside of 60 Minutes.
6) The NSA defends its warrantless wiretapping program by pointing out that the windows of opportunity don’t last long: once the eaves drop, the sashes go quickly.
7) Martha Stewart has come back to Us and she can now return to her People; she has paid her debt to the society page.
8) Fate offered Cindy Sheehan a shot at ordinary anonymity, kind of kind and pretty pretty, but she wanted more.
9) We know that the Muslims take our cartoons too seriously and we know that they are always looking for moral equivalence: could it be that Zarqawi killed the producer of the Halloween movies intentionally, as part of his War on Terror?
10) This notion that there is a global clash between the Western and Islamic cultures introduces a novel premise; namely, that the other side has a culture.
11) I’m not sure where this idea comes from that Michael Moore would not be a good companion in a trench: he looks to me like a fine trencherman.
12) Apparently there is intense rivalry among Bush Vice Presidents: the radio reports that Dick Cheney was shooting at Quayle but accidentally hit a Texan lawyer right in the potatoe.
13) The 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth reminds us that music did not begin with Frank Sinatra: long before there was a Rat Pack we had the Wolf Gang.
14) Tom DeLay may have pulled a boner to cost him his job as Majority leader but John Boehner did not delay in campaigning for the vacated slot.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?